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Conference 2015 | Police officers: We are not "crying wolf" on dangers of cuts

POLICE officers from across England and Wales have told the Home Secretary that cuts are hampering their ability to do their job - and jeopardising public safety.

Theresa May told delegates at the Police Federation annual conference that she expected policing to do "more with less" and that "more efficiencies could be made". But officers let her they know they are not "crying wolf" over the consequences of cuts to policing in England and Wales.

In a more conciliatory speech than 2014, the Home Secretary offered to work with the Police Federation on upcoming but told them to stop "crying wolf" over the dangers of cuts.

Mrs May told delegates: "Over the past five years, we have had to make some tough and difficult decisions. We have reformed your pay and pensions, reduced police spending and yes, there are fewer officers overall.

"But - despite the predictions of the Federation, and despite the predictions of the politicians who wanted to sell you a false dream of ever more spending - crime is down by more than a quarter since 2010, according to the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales.

"Today, you've said that neighbourhood police officers are an 'endangered species'. I have to tell you that this kind of scaremongering does nobody any good - it doesn't serve you, it doesn't serve the officers you represent and it doesn't serve the public."

Damian O'Reilly, from GMP, told the conference that in 2010 he had won a national award for his work as community police officer. But, he added: "In 2012 I had to leave. I couldn't do it any more. Because of the changes have been imposed on us. Intelligence has dried up. There are no local officers. All we do is reactive. That is the reality.

An officer from the Met, told the Home Secretary: "Last week, a senior officer from my force told me that the cuts could be as much as £800 million. If we have make those savings by cutting officers - that would be the lot. There would be no uniformed officers left in London. Yes I would like an iPad and Taser is very good, but I would much rather have a colleague or indeed a job."

And another delegate added: "I was a community officer up until three weeks ago. Now no-one covers my area. A PCSO is the only point of contact. It is not scaremongering - it is fact. Don't talk down to us."

Another Met officer said that officers in her force had been unable to implement new powers brought in to fight antisocial behaviour because the force could not afford to train the officers.

"There is a real danger that these powers will not be implemented to full effect and it seems disingenuous to raise the public's expectations when we cannot deliver."

The Home Office has announced £15m funding to set up places of safety for people suffering from mental health issues in what she said was a commitment to putting an end to vulnerable people being housed in police custody.

Mrs May also used her speech to announce a major independent review of the use of crime and performance targets across England and Wales after saying a local target culture still existing in some forces. It will be led by Irene Curtis, President of the Police Superintendents' Association.


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